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Ghosts

Short story inspired by the sketch below entitled Ghost" and the Titanic tragedy.

By Lena FolkertPublished 9 months ago 5 min read
3
"Ghost" © Ananda Folkert (author's sister)

*****

The Ship of Dreams. That’s what they called her. I suppose for many aboard and many who never boarded, that’s exactly what she was. More than that, though, she was the ship upon which dreams were carried. The hopes and wishes of the young and the old, the rich and the poor alike – they lived aboard that ship.

Bigger than the ship herself and richer than the glass and iron doors that ordained her finest room, these same dreams were carried across the waters by a hull that was never meant to sink, but they died in those same waters and were brought to an early end with the dreamers who dared to believe in the unsinkable.

Those vast and fine decks were not those of my dreams, though, and as she sailed to the horizon, I kept my eyes fixed not on what lay ahead but that which laid behind. I kept my eyes fixed upon him, his own eyes filling with the same tears that blurred my vision. I stared into his eyes until he was no more than an imagined speck on a faraway shore.

Then, I blinked, and he was gone. I felt the last thread of my own lifeline slip through my fingers, and I felt not afloat on the water but weighed down, pulled beneath the currents that carried me farther away. I was left gasping for air, wandering a ship full of souls who thought their lives were at their peak.

They did not know that though we ate the same fine foods and smelled the same clean sea air, we lived in different realms not separated by class or riches but by life and death. Nor did any of us know that soon, our dreams would align into one unfathomable shared nightmare.

I’d heard it said that the ocean would alter my dreams. I heard them speak of the beauty and wonder that the swaying nights would bring. She was a vast ship, smooth and steady, but she was not vast enough to mask the movement of the far more powerful sea, and my dreams were surely altered.

Yet, I was not caught up in the wonder or beauty of which they spoke. For my dreams were filled with the same pain I knew under the cold light of the sun’s bright rays. A pain so strong that I felt it as a weight upon my chest as heavy as the great ship upon which I slept, and with each night that my eyes fell closed, I dreamed of the icy water pulling me down and filling my lungs.

Slowly, I was drowning in my own despair, feeling alone and isolated from a world of people that seemed bathed in the warmth the sun’s bright rays were meant to share.

Like a ghost, I haunted that ship. Alive but dead. Surrounded with life and laughter but abandoned by its joy and vibrance. I passed them in the night. Like a specter, I wandered her decks, searching for a tether to their world.

No ties did I find to bind me to their dreams of the living. So, I continued my endless wandering into the bowels of the ship, finding all of her crevices and cracks, before returning to her decks and winding from the bow to the stern. The nights soon turned so cold that even my lifeless body shivered, and I stared at the darkened horizon, searching for other lost souls caught up in the night.

I caught a glimpse on the starboard horizon of a shadow the size of a mountain, but it faded into the darkness, and I thought it a manifestation of my own dark thoughts. A cry thundered above my head, shattering the ice that had filled my veins, and the weight of grief inside my chest quickly turned to fear as my eyes finally made out the shape that lay in front of me.

Iceberg!

I tried to call out, but like in a nightmare, my voice remained contained in my chest. I stood frozen on those cold decks and watched as the ship collided with the ice. I felt her shudder and heard her moaning as the sea entered.

It was the same grief-driven cry that I uttered every night, and as I watched in terror, I found the life within myself that I thought had died days before. I awoke from one terror-filled dream only to be so suddenly thrust into the reality of a nightmare. I fought through the masses, wrought by their shuddering cries of grief and pain that I knew all too well.

Their dreams were ended, and I was aware that their dreams had died in the same moment mine had, only I had awakened sooner than they, and I watched as they scrambled hopelessly and aimlessly. Their panic and chaos brought me to the brink of reality.

I tried to call out to them, but I was once again in a different world. Our places had been switched once again, only now, I was the one with eyes wide open, and I watched in horror as the nightmare unfolded.

It’s the same nightmare I see each night to this day. With my eyes open or closed, I can’t blink the terror away. Blue and white faces frozen in shock and fear. Screams dying on their lips, tears half-way down their cheeks. Man and wife holding hands with their babies in their arms as they sink below the surface.

The ice holds them together, forever enjoining them in their last embrace. Frozen faces slipping below the same waves that once carried their dreams.

Once, I was the specter that wandered her decks, but now she is the ghost that haunts my dreams. Titanic – The Ship of Nightmares.

*****

Art © Ananda Folkert

Words © Lena Folkert

InspirationHistoryDrawing
3

About the Creator

Lena Folkert

Alaskan Grown Freelance Writer 🤍 Lover of Prose

Former Deckhand & Barista 🤍 Always a Pleaser & Eggshell-Walker

Lifelong Animal Lover & Whisperer 🤍 Ever the Student & Seeker

Traveler 🤍 Dreamer 🤍 Wanderer

Happily Lost 🤍 Luckily in Love

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (3)

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  • Lilly Cooper8 months ago

    I find the Titanic fascinating but I am struck by the incredible and senseless loss of life in that tragedy. I can't see it as anything other than a mass grave site.

  • The depth of loss, leaving one feeling dead inside, only to be awakened by the terrible imminence of death itself, moved & awakened to salvation, only to find oneself encased in that horrible icy tomb for the rest of one's life. Numbingly chilling.

  • Love that image and a great take on the image weaving it with the tragedy of the Titanic

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